15 October 2014, Peja - As part of its efforts to facilitate and support the introduction of integrated forest management practices in Kosovo, FAO project “Support to Implementation of Forestry Policy and Strategy in Kosovo”, funded by the Finnish Government, in cooperation with Kosovo Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (MAFRD), held a ceremony for the inauguration of the Forest Laboratory at Forestry Institute in Peja.

The ceremony of inauguration was attended by Ms Anne Meskanen, Chargée D’affaires of the Finnish Embassy in Kosovo, Mr Qazim Qeska, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development in Kosovo, Mr Norbert Norbert Winkler Ráthonyi, FAO Forestry Officer from the Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Mr Ahmet Zejnullahu Chief Executive Officer of the Kosovo Forest Agency,and other stakeholder representatives.

In her opening speech, Ms Meskanen highlighted the importance of the forest sector for the development of Kosovo, expressing the Finnish Government’s satisfaction with the Ministry for delivering concrete results in establishing the laboratory. She stressed that the laboratory will help promote high standards in the Kosovo forest sector as well as the Finnish Government’s consideration in continuing to assist the development of the sector.

Mr Qazim Qeska, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, said, “We are inaugurating a modern laboratory which Kosovo lacked so far and this is a great gift from FAO and the Government of Finland”.

Mr Norbert Winkler Ráthonyi reflected on the successful collaboration between FAO and MAFRD in the framework of the project, adding that the parties’ joint efforts have helped create good conditions for an effective forest health monitoring in Kosovo.

After the opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, Ms Meskanen, Deputy Minister Qeska, and the other guests took a tour in the facility guided by laboratory personnel.

Thereafter, the guests were invited for a short field trip to the Forest Nursery in Peja.

Background information

Forestry Applied Research and Testing Laboratory under the Forestry Institute in Peja will have a central role in analyzing samples taken from the field, in order to ??? identify forest pests and diseases; monitor and diagnose harmful biotic and abiotic factors; test seeds and planting materials; monitor forest seedling quality; and conduct other laboratory tests to determine and diagnose levels and trends of forest health and ecosystem conditions in Kosovo.

These functions and tasks will be performed in compliance with the national plan for monitoring of forest health. The Forestry Institute will also serve as a partner in the European Cooperative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Atmospheric Pollution and other Factors’ effects on forests (ICP Forest).